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Care home nutrition target of new care plans for community nurses

Nutrition and nursing specialists have devised a series of care plans to help nurses look after care home residents at risk of malnutrition.

The care plans were created by the National Nurses Nutrition Group (NNNG) in conjunction with the expert panel that drew up the Managing Adult Malnutrition in the Community guide and pathway.

“Malnutrition is a particular problem in care homes across the country”

Liz Evans

The plans apply to patients in residential and care homes who are either at low, medium or high risk of malnutrition.

“Nurses’ role in ensuring these patients are being correctly assessed, treated and monitored is paramount,” said Liz Evans, nutrition nurse specialist and chair of the NNNG.

“Malnutrition is a particular problem in care homes across the country and we know from national surveys that more than one in three residents are at risk,” added dietician Anne Holdoway, chair of the panel that developed the Managing Adult Nutrition in the Community guide.

The guide is intended to assist community healthcare professionals in identifying and managing those at risk of disease-related malnutrition. It has been developed by a multi-professional team and is endorsed by the Royal College of Nursing and the NNNG. 

Ms Holdoway said: “Community nurses play a very important role in screening and monitoring the progress of malnourished patients and in ensuring they are on an appropriate treatment plan.

“The care plans have been developed for use in residential and care homes but could also be used in other community settings,” she said.

The care plans are free to download.

Readers' comments (8)

  • I worked in a number of care homes for the elderly during my nurse training. I was saddened at the lack of care and awareness given to the nutritional needs of the elderly residents by some homes. Food budgets seemed to have been devised at the lowest possible cost, the food was often unappetising and nutritionally poor e.g. high fat and sugar content, lack of fresh fruit and vegetables. Proper hydration was ignored. Residents frequently complained that they were hungry, but were ignored. I no longer work in this area of nursing but hope that this shameful situation has been improved. I would add that I did witness some excellent care homes, but they were the exception.

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  • where i live food in the state care home is hotel standard and caters for the dietary needs of individuals. their restaurant is also open to the public which should give proof. this also means more and better contact with their visitors and the local community.

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  • above, same applies to local and other hospitals in the area. and hotel standards mean quality, quantity, choice, variety and presentation. hospital restaurant is also open to the public and both have pleasant sunny terraces with awnings and shade and very reasonable costs.

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  • michael stone

    We were discussing this on the Dignity in Care 'site a while ago: my suggestion that perhaps the elderly who weren't eating enough might be encouraged to 'graze' seemed to get some support, from people who know more about it than I do.

    http://www.dignityincare.org.uk/Discuss_and_debate/Discussion_forum/?forumID=45&obj=viewThread&threadID=707

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  • Definitely agree on the 'grazing' idea - previously working in home care with elderly patients I know a lot of people struggle to eat one large meal, or even don't like to admit that they can't get a snack for themselves - leaving a little side plate of fruit (grapes or dried fruit are good for picking at) and biscuits/crackers alongside their drink for between calls often worked in encouraging them to eat slightly more.

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  • are appetite stimulants such as a small glass of sherry or other aperitif before meals or a glass of red wine with meals no longer acceptable? they are quite standard in other European countries and are acceptable social habits for the elderly.

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  • Food and drink charts a good idea too. Residents should be given a choice or ALL nourishing food and given time to eat. Dentures ill fitting, slow swollow and poor appetite all hinder older peoples from eating ENOUGH

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  • All three care homes I've worked in, in the last 15 years have provided good quality nutritious food. All residents are weighed monthly to check that they aren't loosing of gaining excessive weight. Residents are monitored and food and fluid charts are used to record intake if there is a problem. Residents are always encouraged to eat and drink as much as they want/need. They are helped to eat as necessary and spoon-fed if needed.

    I haven't noticed this happening in the hospitals I've had to go to during that time. There the food is often left out of reach of the patients and then taken away uneaten.

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